A potentially targetable Achilles' heel of cancer
Many of the mutations in the DNA of a cancer cell will lead to changes in the proteins expressed on it's surface and these can be recognised by the immune system as 'foreign.' As a consequence, such specific neoantigens can be targeted by different types of immunotherapies, which will attack cancer cells but shouldn't have an effect on any healthy cells.
In this trial https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03412877 Dr. Rosenberg and his team at the US NCI will firstly look for every individuals own neoantigens. Once found they then genetic modify their T-cells to express a receptor (TCR) in order to target these. They then get infused into the patient and it's hoped they will cause the reduction and destruction of all tumours.